|Is it safe
to travel in Turkey?
Turkey is one of the safest countries in the
world in which to travel, and its crime rate is
low in comparison to many Western European
countries. Interpol ranked Turkey as the safest
holiday destination in Europe for travelers.
Naturally, we recommend that travelers to Turkey
exercise the same precautions they would
elsewhere, and be aware of security concerns
that affect all international travelers. The
Turkish Government takes air safety very
seriously, and maintains strict oversight,
particularly on international flights. The U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has places
Turkey's civil aviation authority in Category
1-in full compliance with international aviation
safety standards in overseeing Turkey's air
carrier operations. In the days following the
September 11 attacks, Turkish Airlines was one
of the first international airlines cleared by
the FAA to fly into the United States.
When is the best time to travel in Turkey?
The high season for travel in Turkey generally
runs between mid-April and late-October. During
the off-season, temperatures are much cooler and
snow is possible in mountainous areas. Many
visitors enjoy the spring and fall, with their
mild weather and small crowds.
Coastal regions are particularly popular with
tourists during the summer. These include resort
areas along the Aegean and Mediterranean coast
with beaches and yachting facilities. The
coastline, especially between Izmir and Antalya,
features numerous coves and bays and many nearby
ancient cities and is perfect for yachting. A
large number of international-quality marinas
provide services for the yachtsman. For active
travelers, swimming, fishing, water-skiing,
surfing and diving are available.
Turkey also enjoys many spectacular rivers. They
are ideal for canoeing, skiing and rafting.
Mountaineering is also popular in mountain
ranges throughout Turkey in spring and summer.
The high plateaus of the Eastern Black Sea
Region are covered by colorful flowers and green
pasture during spring and summer. Naturalists
will enjoy the diversity of fauna and flora as
well as the heart-stopping splendor of the
Central and Eastern Turkey can receive large
accumulations of snow, and snow skiing is a
favorite winter pastime. Turkey has several ski
centers, which are generally open from December
through April depending on snow conditions.
What are the Average Air and Water Temperatures
for Turkey's major cities?
Temperatures are given in oC (degrees Celsius)
in Turkey, which can be converted to oF (degrees
Fahrenheit) with the formula: oF = (9/5)oC + 32
The web site of the General Directorate of the
Turkish State Meteorological Service,
www.meteor.gov.tr, gives current sea and air
temperatures, humidity and 3-day weather
forecasts for all cities in Turkey and for the
holiday resorts of Alanya, Anamur, Bodrum,
Dalaman, Finike and Marmaris.
Should I Book my trip?
You can book till the last minute, provided that
there is space and we have enough time to
exchange travel documents. To ensure there is
space available on your preferred tour, the
earlier, the better.
Offer Travel Insurance?
No. Please check with your insurance agent for
coverage. We strongly recommend purchasing
luggage, personal effects, accident, health and
trip cancellation insurance.
We Go from Greece or Israel to Turkey?
There are ferries from many Greek Islands to
Turkey and 2 daily flights from Athens to
Istanbul. There are also 2 daily flights from
Jerusalem to Istanbul.
What attractions does Turkey offer related to
religious history and issues of faith?
History has been incredibly generous to Turkey,
which has been vital in the history of the three
major Western religions -- Christianity, Judaism,
and Islam. Turkey is one of a few countries
where all three religions have co-existed
peacefully for centuries. There are a many
important sites in Turkey of interest to people
of all faiths.
More and more people are discovering the
important role Turkey played in the history of
Christianity. Travelers can discover many
magnificent churches, some nearly as old as
Christianity itself, and can retrace the
footsteps of Saints Peter and Paul from the
Biblical city of Antioch to the underground
churches of Cappadocia. Many of the most
important events in Christian history occurred
in Turkey. Born in Tarsus, the Apostle Paul
spread the word of Jesus Christ across Anatolia,
expanding Christianity's reach from a
predominantly Jewish base to Gentile communities.
Not far from Tarsus on Turkey's Eastern
Mediterranean coast is Antakya, known in
biblical times as Antioch. This ancient city was
founded around 300 B.C. and was home to the
first important Christian community, founded in
42 AD by St. Paul. Jesus' followers were first
called "Christians" in Antioch and from here
Christianity spread to the world. St. Paul
departed from Antioch on his three missionary
journeys. The city holds the Church of St. Peter,
a cave-church where the apostles Peter and Paul
are believed to have preached. In 1963, the
Vatican designated the site a place of
pilgrimage and recognized it as the world's
The "Seven Churches of Asia Minor," a series of
communities located near the Aegean coast, is
where St. Paul visited, preached and built the
early church. Their ancient names - Ephesus
(Efes), Smyrna (Izmir), Thyatira (Akhisar),
Sardis (Sart), Philadelphia (Alasehir), Laodicea
(Eskihisar) and Pergamon (Bergama) are familiar
from the New Testament's Book of Revelation.
Ephesus, perhaps the most prominent of the Seven
Churches, is where St. Paul wrote his letters to
the Ephesians, and where St. John the Evangelist
brought the Virgin Mary to spend her last years.
The Vatican recognizes the Virgin Mary's house,
located in the hills near Ephesus, as a shrine.
Just outside Ephesus, in Selcuk, is the Basilica
of St. John where he preached and is believed to
Many other regions in Turkey offer a wealth of
attractions to the Christian traveler. St.
Nicholas was born and lived in Demre on the
Mediterranean coast. A church dedicated to the
original Santa Claus still stands. Visitors to
the biblical area of Cappadocia, located in
Central Anatolia, can explore more than 200
carved rock churches beautifully decorated with
frescoes depicting early Christian motifs, and a
seven-story underground city where Christians
took refuge from their persecutors.
The stunning Monastery of the Virgin Mary
located near the Black Sea in Trabzon is a well-known
monastic center dating to the 4th century. Built
on the edge of a l200 foot cliff and accessible
only by foot, it housed some of the Orthodox
Church's greatest thinkers.
Istanbul became the center of Christianity in
330 AD and it was here that the largest church
in Christendom at the time, Haghia Sophia or the
Church of the Divine Wisdom, was dedicated by
Emperor Justinian in 536 AD. The Kariye Museum,
a Greek Orthodox Church from the 11th and 14th
centuries, is famous for its incomparable
Byzantine frescoes and mosaics.
Judaism has had a continuous presence in Turkey
since ancient times. Signs written in Hebrew and
menorahs carved into stone at historical sites
such as Ephesus, Kusadasi, Priene, Hieropolis,
and Pamukkale attest to long history of Jews in
Turkey. In Sardis, near Izmir, the remains of
the largest ancient synagogue in existence date
to the 3rd century AD. Its frescoes and mosaics
suggest a large, well-established and successful
Jewish community in Sardis.
According to the legend of the great flood,
Noah's Ark ran aground at Mount Agri (Ararat).
When the floodwaters receded, Noah and his
family descended from the mountain to the
fertile Igdir Plain and repopulated the world.
Jewish Patriarchs Abraham and Job also made
their mark in eastern Turkey. Sanli Urfa in
southeastern Turkey is known as the city of
Prophets. A cave there is said to be the
birthplace of the prophet Abraham. It has become
a place of pilgrimage and is now surrounded by
the Halil Rahman Mosque. The Prophet Job, who
was famed for his patience, is believed to have
spent seven years recovering from illness inside
another cave located in the district of Eyyübiye
two kilometers south of Sanli Urfa.
Jews have enjoyed tolerance and peace in Turkey
for centuries. After the Jewish communities in
Spain and Portugal were exiled in 1492 during
the Inquisition, Sultan Beyazit II welcomed them
to the Ottoman Empire. As a result, many Jewish
communities still thrive in modern Turkey.
Istanbul is of particular significance to Jewish
visitors. In the city's old Jewish Quarter is
the 19th century Neve Shalom Synagogue, the
Zulfaris Jewish Museum and nearby, the 15th
century Ahrida Synagogue. The first Jewish
printing press began operating in Istanbul in
1493 and Jewish literature and music flourished
during this period.
In Bursa, a short drive south of Istanbul,
visitors will find the Gerus Synagogue, built at
the end of the 15th century by the first Jews
who settled in the city after being expelled
from Spain. The name of the synagogue in Hebrew
means, "Expelled". Izmir, located on the Aegean
coast, has several synagogues, including Beth
Israel Synagogue; Bikour Holim Synagogue, named
in memory of an epidemic when city hospitals
were so full that synagogues were used to house
the sick, and Giveret Synagogue, rebuilt after
an 1841 fire.
Visitors to Turkey are often touched by the call
to prayer from lofty minarets. The call is heard
five times a day, inviting the faithful to face
towards Mecca and pray from the Koran. Although
Turkey is a secular democracy which guarantees
freedom of religion for all people, Islam is the
country's predominant religion. People of all
faiths may visit Turkey's mosques.
Islam's roots in Turkey date to the 10th Century.
In the ensuing centuries Seljuk and Ottoman
Turks constructed impressive mosques with
elegant interior decorations and imposing domes
and minarets. Virtually every Turkish city has a
mosque of historical or architectural
significance. Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul
stands as perhaps the most impressive. Built
between 1609 and 1616 in the classic Ottoman
style, the building is more familiarly known as
the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent
interior paneling of blue and white Iznik tiles.
The Suleymaniye Mosque is the largest in
Istanbul. It was built between 1550 and 1557by
Suleyman the Magnificent, the greatest sultan of
the Ottoman Empire.
Other cities also have impressive Islamic
architecture. The Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque) with
its 20 domes and Yesil Cami (Green Mosque) in
Bursa, was constructed between 1419 and 1420.
The mosque derives its name from the exquisite
green and turquoise tiles in its interior. Haci
Bayram Mosque in Ankara was built in the early
15th century in the Seljuk style and was
subsequently restored by the master Ottoman
architect Sinan in the 16th century. Selimiye
Mosque in Edirne reflects the classical Ottoman
style and Sinan's lasting genius.
Konya ranks as one of the great cultural centers
of Turkey. As the capital of the Seljuk Turks
from the 12th to the 13th centuries Konya was a
center of cultural, political and religious
growth. During this period, the mystic Mevlana
Celaleddin Rumi founded a Sufi Order known in
the West as the Whirling Dervishes. Mevlana's
striking green-tiled mausoleum is Konya's most
famous attraction. Attached to the mausoleum,
the former dervish seminary now serves as a
museum housing manuscripts of Mevlana's works
and various artifacts related to the mystic sect.
should visitors dress in Turkey?
Casual wear is appropriate for most tour
excursions. Women wear pants or skirts, but when
visiting mosques it is recommended that they
cover their heads with a scarf and both sexes
should not wear shorts out of respects for
exchange money before I go to Turkey?
The highly favorable exchange rate makes travel
to Turkey extremely affordable. Most banks in
the U.S. do not have Turkish Lira. However,
Turkish currency is easily obtainable upon
arrival in Turkey at any exchange office or
bank. Daily exchange rates can be obtained from
the Turkish Central Bank web site at www.tcmb.gov.tr.
This site is in both Turkish and English, and
gives links to all Turkish Banks. Turkish daily
newspapers also publish daily exchange rates.
There are ATM machines throughout Turkey,
particularly in larger cities and tourist
centers. Credit cards are accepted by hotels and
vaccinations required for tourists entering
There are no vaccination requirements for any
The World Health Organization web site, www.who.org,
provides vaccination certificate requirements by
country, geographic distributions of potential
health hazards to travelers and information on
health risks and their avoidance (click on "Travelers'
safe to drink tap water in Turkey?
Turkey practices safe sanitation standards, and
tap water is suitable for bathing and regular
tasks such as brushing teeth. However, as is
customary in most Mediterranean countries, the
majority of locals and visitors drink bottled
water. We recommend that visitors follow local
custom and drink bottled water, which is
routinely served with any meal.